The excitement of doing a story on former Foothill High athlete Val Arioto going to the Olympics on Team USA in softball brought back a flood of memories of so many great athletes I was blessed to cover during their high school days.
In some ways, many of them became an extended family as I felt a tremendous sense of pride watching them climb through the collegiate ranks, and in some cases to professional sports.
I started throwing some names down on paper and before too long I had one heck of a list. I thought to start with six athletes and then from time to time, I will drop in some more. It's a great way to honor and remember the past, as well look at the present!
Remember, these are athletes I covered regularly and spoke frequently with as well. I didn't cover all the sports, so there are going to be some incredible athletes that get left off.
In no order and of course excluding Arioto, who last week in Team USA's first prep game in Japan hit a solo home run to give the USA a 1-0 win, here are the first six.
Kyle Wright (Monte Vista football): Wright was the Gatorade National Player of the Year in his senior season before he went to the University of Miami.
What people forget was Wright was a sensational baseball player as well, earning All-East Bay honors as a sophomore on the MV varsity. He was also a talented basketball player but chose to focus on football his final two years.
Brandon Crawford (Foothill baseball/football): Crawford's baseball excellence is well documented with his play and World Series titles with the San Francisco Giants. He's still playing at such a high level he was in the All-Star game this week.
Old timers will remember this too: that Crawford was an exceptional football player, starting as a safety, and then when the Falcons were lacking a quarterback in his senior season, he swapped sides of the ball and became one of the best QBs in the area. I am still convinced he could have been a D-I football player -- he was that good.
Kim Patrick (Foothill soccer/softball): Patrick was best known for her soccer, earning a scholarship to North Carolina, where in her freshman year the Tar Heels took the 1999 NCAA National Championship, winning the College Cup. The final four were in San Jose that year with Patrick leading the College Cup with four goals and was an All-Tournament selection. She transferred after her sophomore year to the University of Tennessee where she made a mark in the Vols' record books.
Keeping with the unknown aspect of her high school years, she was an amazing softball player. Hitting left-handed and using her elite speed, she mastered the art of the slap hit, racking up an average of over .600 for a season.
Mia Fisher (Amador Valley basketball): So amazing was Fisher during her time with the Dons leading them to two state final games and often seeing the Amador gym packed when the Amador girls took the court.
A magician with the ball, she made everyone around her better, which is what she did at the next level at UC Santa Barbara. She made the All-Big West team all four years and led the Gauchos to four NCAA appearances.
David Klech (California track and field): Another EBAL athlete that was honored as the Gatorade National Track and Field Athlete, Klech won the CIF Title in the 300 hurdles in 2006.
He was also an incredible long and high jumper, eventually moving on to both the heptathlon and decathlon. He started at UCLA before transferring to Oregon. He is currently the head coach at UC Santa Cruz.
Danny Gabor (Amador Valley track and field): Danny was a family friend, which made covering his run to a CIF State title in the 800 meters so much better. In 1987, Gabor won the state title with a last-to-first run, bringing the crowd at Hughes Stadium to their feet. Danny went on to run successfully at the University of Arkansas.
Then, on a day I will never forget, Danny's life was ended in July 1996 when he was a passenger on TWA Flight 800 that went down shortly after take-off off the coast of Long Island. My dad and I still have our personalized, autographed picture from Danny on the victory stand in 1987. It sits on the mantle of our fireplace and will always hold a special place.
Editor's note: Dennis Miller is a contributing sports writer for the Pleasanton Weekly. To contact him about his "Pleasanton Preps" column, email [email protected]